Kendall Coyne Schofield has first-hand look at what women’s hockey is missing

Kendall Coyne Schofield
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For U.S. women’s hockey captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, the resources she lacks as a female hockey player aren’t some unknown quantity. They are tangible benefits she provides other athletes on a regular basis.

“I live it every day with the Chicago Blackhawks,” Coyne Schofield told On Her Turf. “Just how many player development coaches, just how many scouts there are, just those resources and the amount of support that the players have.”

As a player development coach for the Blackhawks — a full-time role Coyne Schofield has held since 2020 — she is responsible for scouting NHL prospects, watching their games, breaking down film, and then calling the players up to provide feedback.

But after one of Coyne Schofield’s PWHPA games? There is no phone call about what she did well or what she could improve on. And ahead of USA Hockey training camps, who is watching to determine which players are invited?

“Something that I struggle with is that there’s not a head scout, a full-time head scout for the women’s national team, someone who (does) that as their full-time job,” she said.

Coyne Schofield pointed to this month’s USA Hockey Festival, where invited players competed for spots on the U18 and Collegiate select teams, as well as the 23-player world championship roster.

“You could ask, ‘How did these 116 players get here and get invited? Who’s watching them on a regular basis? Who’s watching college hockey? Who’s watching youth hockey? Who’s watching pro hockey?'”

“If Kendall has one thing, it’s vision,” said U.S. alternate captain Lee Stecklein. “Vision on the ice and vision for a future of women’s hockey.”

2022 Women’s Hockey Worlds: TV schedule, how to watch, tournament format and more

Back in 2017, U.S. women’s hockey players threatened to boycott that year’s World Championship if USA Hockey didn’t increase player compensation and benefits — a threat that ultimately led to a historic agreement between the two sides.

Five years later, the development of the women’s game remains central to ongoing negotiations. The U.S. players’ current one-year agreement with USA Hockey is set to expire on August 31, midway through the 2022 IIHF World Championship, which began last Thursday in Denmark.

“Obviously we would have loved to have a deal done heading into this world championship to eliminate distraction and conversation with the contract, given that the conversation started months ago,” Coyne Schofield, who also serves as a representative for the national team in negotiations, said prior to leaving for Worlds.

USA Hockey declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations.

Coyne Schofield said the creation of a Women’s National Team Development Program remains a long-term goal. USA Hockey currently spends millions annually on the National Team Development Program (NTDP) for U17 and U18 boys, but there is no equivalent girls’ program.

“It’s been a topic of conversation since our first negotiation,” Coyne Schofield said. “People may say,’ Well, who are they going to play?’ Well, the NTDP plays college teams. There’s no reason the top 17-, 18-year-old women in the country couldn’t play a college schedule as well.”

The NHL and NTDP aren’t the only benchmarks Coyne Schofield considers. She also has a close-up look at the resources provided to her husband Michael Schofield, an offensive guard for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

“I’ve been able to see what women’s professional sports deserve through the lens of my husband and his job,” she said. “How he’s treated and the resources he has and how he’s communicated to and all those things.”

Kendall and Michael are part of the ownership group of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, which has provided insights on the operations and growth of a different women’s league. She’s also worked as a commentator for NBC Sports, serves on the board of the PWHPA, and runs her own hockey camp.

“I’ve been trying to wear many different hats to hopefully put women’s hockey in the best position to succeed moving forward,” she said. “So I hope through these different experiences and roles, I can provide some insight.”

Her efforts are already paying off.

“She gives so much to us and then so much to everybody else. I really don’t know how she has the time,” said Stecklein. “It has a huge impact on our lives and the game overall.”

“Everything Kendall does, on and off the ice, is to benefit others,” added teammate Jincy Dunne. “She works her butt off to do it. She’s always asking, ‘How can I be better on the ice? How can I be better in the community? How can I grow the game?’ She’s always fighting for people.”

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Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”

2022 Ascendant LPGA: How to watch, who’s playing in Texas’s annual signature event

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand hits her second shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
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The LPGA make its annual stop in The Colony, Texas, this week for the 10th edition of the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, where Thailand’s 19-year-old rookie Atthaya Thitikul comes in hot off her second career win and second playoff victory this season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Leading the 132-player field at Old American Golf Club, located at Golf Clubs at The Tribute, are Texas residents and past champions Cheyenne Knight and Angela Stanford. They’ll compete for the $1.7 million prize purse alongside major champions Nelly KordaLydia Ko and Brooke Henderson. Last year’s Ascendant LPGA champion, world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, will not be defending her title after announcing earlier this month she would be missing several weeks due to a nagging wrist injury.

This past weekend in Arkansas, Thitikul took the lead with a 10-under 61 in the second round and shot 68 in the final round to finish regulation tied with Danielle Kang at 17-under 196. Thitikul, who won the JTBC Classic in March in a two-hole playoff vs. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, drained an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure the win over Kang.

How to watch the 2022 Ascendant LPGA 

Coverage of the 2022 Ascendant LPGA from Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, can be found on Golf Channel, with streaming options available any time on any mobile device and online through and the NBC Sports app.

  • Thursday, Sept. 29: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, Sept. 30: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, Oct. 2: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2022 Ascendant LPGA

Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex World Rankings are among the field in Texas, including:

  • No. 2 Nelly Korda
  • No. 4 Lydia Ko
  • No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 7 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka

A number of local Texans also are in the tournament, headlined by past champions, Angela Stanford (2020) and Cheyenne Knight (2019), and two junior champions of the Volunteers of America Classic Girls Championship, who are playing on a sponsor exemption: Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang (2022), a freshman at SMU, and Avery Zweig (2021), a high school sophomore from McKinney, Texas.

Past five champions of The Ascendant LPGA

2021 Jin Young Ko (South Korea) 16-under 268 1 stroke Matilda Castren
2020 Angela Stanford (USA) 7-under 277 2 strokes So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Yealimi Noh
2019 Cheyenne Knight (USA) 18-under 266 2 strokes Brittany Altomare, Jaye Marie Green
2018 Sung Hyun Park (South Korea) 11-under 131 1 stroke Lindy Duncan
2017 Haru Nomura (Japan) 3-under 281 Playoff Christie Kerr

Last time at The Ascendant LPGA

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko carded a final-round 69 to maintain her 54-hole lead at Old American Golf Club and held on for a one stroke win at the 2021 Volunteers of America Classic, her eighth career LPGA tour title. Ko finished regulation at 16-under 268, edging Finland’s Matilda Castren by one stroke.

It kicked off a five-win season for Ko, who had just lost her No. 1 ranking to Nelly Korda the week prior after holding the top spot for 100 straight weeks. She regained the No. 1 ranking back in October 2021, after earning her fourth win in seven starts at the BMW Ladies Championship.

More about Old American Golf Club

Opened in 2010, the Old American Golf Club is one of two clubs at The Tribute, a lakefront resort community on Lewisville Lake in The Colony, Texas. Designed by Tripp Davis and 12-time PGA Tour winner Justin Leonard, Old American plays as a Par 71 and stretches to 6,475 yards on the tournament scorecard.